What do you do when you visit a brewery that doesn’t have a beer you like? After visiting nearly 200 all over the country, we’ve run into breweries of all shapes and sizes from a 1.6 barrel system at Hess Brewery in San Diego to New Belgium, who produces over 600,000 barrels a year (that’s 148.8 MILLION pints of beer in case you were counting). Some breweries have been around for over 20 years, some just started 2 months ago. Some focus on certain styles while others go with the tried and true Pale Ale, IPA, one light one dark routine. But with all these visits surely you are bound to find some that just are not good at all.
The thing is with brewery visits, as much as it should be just about the beer, it’s not. With the way we travel and try to visit breweries all across the nation, we visit at all times of the day, sometimes early, sometimes mid-afternoon. Everything from your mood coming into the visit to the vibe around you at the brewery will impact the way you remember that particular place at that particular time. Maybe the bartender wasn’t friendly at explaining the beer list or it took too long to have anyone serve you, these things come into play before you even take your first sip of beer. Which then of course, leads us to the tasting.
What do you do if you don’t like the beer? Usually we ask to sample a beer or two before we get a pint. Most breweries and sometimes taprooms are more than happy to let you have a little 2 oz sample, unless there is a law in the state against it. If I don’t like a beer of the one or two we sample, I ask for another. In many cases we will split a sampler tray. Generally with the amount of options available your bound to find one that is somewhat palatable. But then I wonder, what’s the point. If you don’t like any of the beers you’ve sampled do you still go ahead and order a full pint of the least offensive one?
I’m not an expert beer taster by any means, nor do I claim to be. I know of the off flavors in beer, mainly that they exist, but I couldn’t tell you this is for sure diacetyl. I just know, I either like it or I don’t. I am getting better at sorting out flavors of a style or beer, but am not familiar with the ingredients that are behind those flavors. Lately it just seems that I DON’T like a lot more beers than I DO like. I don’t know if it’s just an off day for my palate, or if the beer really isn’t that good.
I once asked this question to our followers and one of the more thoughtful comments suggested a person should say something to the brewer/bartender about it, describe what you taste, what you think isn’t right. She went as far to say that sometimes the brewer knows it’s not the best beer, but they serve it anyway. Sometimes breweries are so overtaxed with production, they have to. I’m not confident enough in my knowledge of tasting beer to give a thoughtful critique, but I know there are many out there that would.
So I am curious if anyone has ever run into this type of situation. What did you do? Did you say something or did you just quietly slip a few bills on the bar and duck out of there as fast as you could? OR are you so privileged to be living in California, Colorado or Oregon that you can’t even fathom, amongst all the incredible brewery options you have, that this would even be possible?